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WASHINGTON -- Pollution from Asia is helping generate stronger storms over the North Pacific, according to new research.
Changes in the North Pacific storm track could have an impact on weather across the Northern Hemisphere. Satellite measurements have shown an increase in tiny particles generated from coal burning in China and India in recent decades, researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A particular threat, they added, is the potential for increased warming of polar regions.
Without pollutants, there are relatively few particles over the north Pacific to form the basis of cloud nuclei, so the water vapor forms bigger droplets around the existing nuclei, and the droplets also varying in size, Zhang said.
This causes some particles to move faster than others, leading to collisions that trigger rainfall.
When more nuclei are introduced by pollutants, the droplets that form are of smaller and more uniform size, making them less likely to collide and fall, he said. This encourages the air mass to carry on rising, leading to more convection and greater energy-transport from the ocean. The resulting storms then become more energetic, with more thunder and lightning, and greater precipitation, Zhang said.